ALPS SELECT Swiss/Italian Loop, June 24 – July 4, 2017 (11 days) TOUR FULL
You Can Extend Your Tour – French Loop – Mt. Blanc, July 5 – 8, 2017 (4 days)
15 Total Riding Days Available
My “Alps Select” tour picks the crème de la crème of Alpine riding for tour members and serves them up a hearty helping of Stelvio and Gavia and a tasty desert of Italian Alpine lake experience. Most Alpine motorcycle experts, including John Hermann (“King of the Alps”) consider the Andermatt region in Switzerland and the Dolomites of Italy to be the “must ride” roads of the Alps. So this tour is anchored by Andermatt on one end and Dolomite World Cup town of Corvara im Badia at the other end. In between these two motorcycling Mecca’s we feast on three of the highest passes in the Alps including the famous switchback laden Passo di Stelvio, the wild and beautiful Passo di Gavia and the Umbrail pass.
In addition to riding some of the highest of the highs and conquering mountains of fondue and gelato we also take a break from the tall peaks and head to the southern edge of the Alps at the beautiful town of Riva on the northern edge of Lago di Garda. Riva and the surrounding area are Italian and have a very different feel from the Germanic regions to the north. Here we can have dinner by the lake, walk the narrow stone streets at night while looking for crafts and Italian leather specialties or take a day time boat tour of various shore lined villages. The riding in the surrounding high hills overlooking the lake is pretty special too.
In this one Alps Select tour you get to see it all, the magnificence of the Swiss Alps, the more up close and personal feel of the Dolomites, the spectacular high passes of Stelvio and Gavia and the unique Italian Alps lakeside ambiance of Riva. We can expect to ride 50 – 60 passes. It really is the best of the best.
The French peaks are generally more barren and bleak but beautiful at the same time. The Swiss and Austrian mountains are the picture perfect vistas that you expect. The Italian mountains are rugged and fun to ride while the Dolomites are more up-close and personal. You literally get it all with this tour, a great variety of roads, food, culture and mountains.
ALPS SELECT Swiss/Italian Loop
- Saturday – Thun (S)
- Sunday – Sta. Maria (S)
- Monday – Sta. Maria (S)
- Tuesday – Corvara (I)
- Wednesday – Corvara (I)
- Thursday – Corvara (I)
- Friday – Riva del Garda (I)
- Saturday – Riva del Garda (I)
- Sunday – Pontresina (S)
- Monday – Andermatt (S)
- Tuesday – Thun (S)
Flex Extension French Loop – Mt Blanc
- Wednesday – Seez (F)
- Thursday – Chamonix (F)
- Friday – Chamonix (F)
- Saturday – Thun (S)
- Sunday – Fly Home
- Saturday – Free Day – The bike is yours all day. There’s lots of great riding nearby.
- Sunday – Schallenberg, Glaubenberg, Klausen
- Monday – Pragel, Ibergeregg, Satellegg, Wolfgang, Fluelapass
- Tuesday – Umbrail, di Eira, di Foscagno, Forcola di Livigno, Mortirolo, Gavia, Stelvio
- Wednesday – Reschen, Pillerhoe, Timmelsjoch, Jaufen, di Campolongo
- Thursday – di Falzarego, di Giau, di Fedaia, di Pordoi, di Sella, di Gardena
- Friday – Penserjoch, Wurtzjoch, (Lots of high, beautiful, one lane roads)
- Saturday – Pordoi, di Costalunga, di Lavaze, Manghen
- Sunday – Free day to enjoy the lake region or ride in the surrounding mountains
- Monday – Croce Domini, dell Aprica, Bernina, Maloja, Splugen
- Tuesday – Oberalp, Susten, Furka, Grimsel
French Loop – Mt Blanc
- Wednesday – Saanenmoser, Col du Pillon, Col del la Croix, Col du Grand St. Bernard, Col du Petit St. Bernard
- Thursday – Col de l’Iseran, Col du Mt. Cenis, Col de la Madeleine, Cormet de Roseland, Col du Pre, Col des Saises
- Friday – Chamonix – see below
- Saturday – Col de Montets, Col de la Forclaz, Jaunpass
- Sunday – Fly Home
MOTO-CHARLIE reserves the right to alter the exact route at his discretion.
This tour focuses on three main areas with a little bit of Switzerland thrown in. The first area is the Tyrolean region of Northwest Italy south of Innsbruck. This area includes some of the highest passes in the Alps including Stelvio, Gavia and the Timmelsjoch, all in the top ten highest alpine passes. We then head east for three days in the Dolomites (my favorite area by a whisker) with their unique look, great twisty roads and multitude of passes. Our final stop is two days at the northern tip of Lago di Garda famous for its windsurfing and water sports. Riva is a fun town to hang out in and the roads around and above the lake are a great hoot to ride. If you would like to stay a little longer you can add the “French” 4-day loop, which takes us into France over a variety of passes including the Grand St Bernard and the Col d’Iseran (2nd highest pass in the Alps) looping around the highest mountain in the Alps (Mont Blanc) while enjoying one of the coolest Alpine towns at the base of Mt Blanc (Chamonix).
Most people like to arrive a day ahead of time on Friday. The motorcycle is usually available to pick up on Friday afternoon. If the entire group arrives on Friday we usually plan two group rides on Saturday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. You are welcome to come on both, one, or none of the Saturday rides. I’ll be more than glad to help you plan whatever alternate Saturday activity might be of interest to you.
- Saturday – Pick up the motorcycle. There are many wonderful sites to see in the immediate area, either by motorcycle or public transportation. Go visit the neat town of Interlaken located between the Thun See (“See” is the German word for lake) and the Brienzer See or take in Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald and gaze upon the Eiger. You’re welcome to join me for a morning and/or afternoon loop ride to used to the bike, the roads and each other . In the evening please feel to join the other tour members for a group dinner or head off on your own for a quiet, private meal. It’s all your choice.
- Sunday – Today is full of smaller one-lane passes, forested and less traveled in a quiet part of Switzerland. In the early afternoon we have lunch lakeside at Beckenried before taking the ferry across the lake. From there we take the road south to Altdorf, made famous by the legend of William Tell before we head east over the highest pass of the day, the Klausen pass. We spend the night at a cozy Swiss hotel on the edge of the Klontaler See.
- Monday – We spend the morning enjoying three more smaller, narrow road passes that are a treat to ride before stopping for lunch at a restaurant high up on the rock face with an excellent view of the Walen See immediately spread out below. From here we head off towards the high pass region near St. Moritz passing through Klosters (where the royal family skis) with our final pass being the Fluela Pass. This pass is well above the tree line with spectacular views. We end up at a great hotel in Mals. We’ll stay here for two nights.
- Tuesday – Today we can ride up to seven passes including the highest passes on the tour. We start at the Umbrail Pass, which brings us just below Stelvio. We do four more passes before heading up Passo di Gavia. At over 2,600 meters this pass is the 7th highest Alpine pass. This is a prelude to the next pass, Passo di Stelvio, considered by many riders to be the “must ride” pass of the Alps. At 2,758 meters it’s the third highest pass in the Alps. With close to 40 switchbacks on both sides, year round skiing at the top, and the carnival like atmosphere at the pass itself there is nothing else like it in the Alps.
- Wednesday – We head north over two smaller passes for a brief run into Austria which will give us access from the west to the Timmelsjoch, the 9th highest pass in the Alps and the highest pass of the day. After a pleasant valley run and easy climb on the Austrian side we cross the top at 2,509 meters into the Italy side for a wild, rollicking ride down to St. Leonard where we head northeast over the Jaufen pass. We then enjoy valley and mountain roads over one more pass into Corvara in the heart of the Dolomites. We will spend 3 nights here.
- Thursday – There are more passes in this area than we will be able to ride. So, we mix it up. Today we ride the classic dolomite passes which look like a figure 8 on the map. We’ll also do Passo di Giau, one of my all time favorites and we’ll trip through the gorge at Sottoguda (see the picture at “The Not So Fine Print” section). If the weather is good we can enjoy a mountain hut lunch via cable car at more than 2,700 meters with spectacular 360 degree views of the Dolomites.
- Friday – Yesterday we rode the classic Dolomite passes. Today we ride some of the lesser known narrow, one lane passes and high valley roads that make this region of the Alps so special. Many of these roads feel like we’ve stumbled onto a windy narrow one lane private driveway with unbelievable scenery. We then head back east over the Wurzjoch, a similar style road but a definite pass with some unforgettable Dolomite massif views. It’s a great way to end our 2-day Dolomite visit.
- Saturday – We head south over four more passes including a narrow un-crowded gem Passo Manghen. We then ride some more twisty Alpine roads before arriving at our lakeside hotel in Riva on the shores of Lago di Garda. Riva is a great example of an Italian lakes region town. There’s a lot to do including shops, cafes, people watching, water sports and more. You can kick back for the balance of the day and enjoy the town or join me for a ride along the shore and up into the adjacent hillside. Don’t worry; we’ll be back in time for dinner.
- Sunday – It’s the week end so the Italian lakeside activities, café life and people watching will be in full swing. Riding can be split into two loops, one in the morning and other in the afternoon. Today lends itself to a number of choices including a whole day away from the bike, a morning ride, which we can highlight with lunch at a hillside hotel/café overlooking a panoramic view of the lake and Riva below or an afternoon loop through the hillside, which few Americans get to see. It’s a good day to recharge your batteries, buy a few souvenirs and soak up some Italian culture.
- Monday – Today we work our way west as we start to head back towards our Swiss base. We cross several delightful narrow, memorable passes located above the lakes and below the higher Tyrolean passes to the north, all with an Italian flavor. We then cross one of my favorites, the Splugen Pass. This pass has it all, tight narrow twisty roads, two-lane panoramic views, Italian espresso and Swiss hospitality on the other side. Our hotel for the night is a short ride into Switzerland.
- Tuesday – It’s our final run back to Thun. I deliberately tease you by running the route through Andermatt, one of the focus areas of the ALPS SELECT tour. We come into Andermatt on the Oberalp pass, considered by many motorcyclists to have the finest set of sweepers that there are to ride. Andermatt is a fantastic, quintessential Swiss town and we stop here for a break and some refreshment. Depending on the weather and our pace we’ll either do one or two high passes in the area and perhaps a neat dead-end road with spectacular views and a nice café. We then head back to Steffisburg surrounded by great Swiss mountain scenery. We should get back in time to return the motorcycles to the rental shop. Here again as on the first night please feel to join the other tour members for a group dinner or head off on your own for a quiet, private meal. It’s all your choice.
French Loop – Mt Blanc
- Wednesday – Today we don’t waste any time heading south for France. In France, the passes are referred to as Col’s. We cross over three small Col’s that flirt just above and below the tree line as we make our way to the Grand St. Bernard into Italy. This is a major Alpine pass at 2,469 meters, the 12th highest in the Alps. While we don’t get to see the real dogs you can feast your eyes on all kinds of stuffed ones at the various souvenir kiosks. From here it’s downhill through Aosta before heading to the Italian town of La Thuile, famous for its chocolate. We continue to the Petite St. Bernard, “only” 2,188 meters high, well above tree line. Like the Grand St. Bernard there is a border here from France into Italy. We work our way down the pass and just before the bottom we arrive at our hotel in Seez.
- Thursday – We get to ride and see a little bit of everything today, all of it beautiful and some of it quite spectacular. We continue to the bottom of the Petite St. Bernard road and onto the Col de l’Iseran, #2 on the TOP 10 list at 2,769 meters. The mountains begin to look more barren, the services get more spread out, and the scenery is spectacular. Iseran was a previous winter Olympic site and the area is a major winter ski destination. From there we continue west on the main valley road before turning north to the Col de la Madeleine. I really this little Col at exactly 2,000 meteres. It’s not a major pass but it’s pretty at the top with good food to boot from the small rest hut. From there we head northeast back towards Borg St Maurice and then veer off to the Cormet de Roseland, which has some the most beautiful scenery of the tour (a popular hang gliding location). We then continue northwest over the lake dam before heading up the Col du Pre, basically a one lane pass road with picture perfect views below of the French valleys and countryside. Another pass or two sees us to Chamonix, our destination for night.
- Friday – Today is a free day to enjoy Chamonix. The town sits at the base of the highest moutain in the Alps – Mont Blanc. Chamonix is a major resort town for both winter and summer activities and is both accessible and down to earth. It has a multitude of things to do and see. The #1 thing to do, weather permitting, is to ride the Aiquille du Midi cable car up 3,842 meters to near the summit of Mt Blanc. It is the highest, longest continuous cable in the Alps. The views from the top are nothing short of spectacular and one the highlights of any Alps tour. Various train and cable cars offer a variety of sights and activities all around Chamonix. You can also just hang out at an outdoor cafe in the center village and enjoy the views and the people watching. Chamonix is a captivating wonderland.
- Saturday – This morning we leave a little extra time to catch up on any Chamonix activities we might have missed the day before. Next we head north towards the Swiss border and Martigny. We cross over three small passes on our way to Switzerland including the Col de Montets and the Col de la Forclaz. Right after we enter Switzerland we turn up the dead end valley road to Lac d’ Emosson, a lake created by a hydro-dam at 1,930 meters. The road up and back offers great views of Mt Blanc and the surrounding mountains. At the top there is a good restuarant, views of the lake and the small chapel that was moved when the valley was flooded by the dam. From there we work our way back to Thun over the Jaunpass with a stop lakeside at the Brienerzee for a Coupe Denmark. Back in Thun we turn in the bikes and have one final farewell group dinner to celebrate new friends and a great tour.
- Sunday – Fly Home
- The tour dates are shown at the top of this page. Naturally, you are welcome to come sooner. I generally arrive on Friday. If you would like to come sooner, or stay longer, hotel and motorcycle arrangements can readily made to suit your schedule.
- When to book your reservation obviously depends on your schedule. As a rule I suggest at least 3 months in advance of the tour date in order to ensure that you get the motorcycle that you want and to secure a place on the tour. There is a limit of 7 motorcycles or 10 people, whichever comes first, per tour. There are nearly a full line of BMW and Honda motorcycles to choose from. In the case of certain BMW’s there are several bikes of the same models available. In the case of Honda, one of each. If having a specific bike is a high priority for you then please book early.
- The final cut-off date is technically 30 days before the tour starts. At this point there is enough lead-time for any adjustments or cancellations as they relate to our motorcycle supplier and related hotels. If someone contacts me to sign up with less than 30 days to go every effort will be made to accommodate you. The issue will usually be the motorcycle availability.
The cost for this tour at the current exchange rates will be:
- Single rider in a single room
- $4,840 Alps Select (11 days)
- $1,760 French Loop (4 days)
- $6,600 (All 15 days)
- Passenger sharing a double room
- $2,695 Alps Select (11 days)
- $980 French Loop (4 days)
- $3,675 (All 15 days)
- Couple riding two-up sharing a double room
- $7,535 Alps Select (11 days)
- $2,740 French Loop (4 days)
- $10,275 (All 15 days)
These cost numbers should cover your direct travel costs including motorcycle rental, all hotels and meals, gas and my fee. For a more complete discussion of the cost of this tour please click here.
5 riders or 7 tour members
Please refer to the “Contact Me” section for my telephone or e-mail address. I am not a paperwork intensive person. So, the process of making a reservation and getting what I need for my records is pretty simple once you contact me.
Feel free to contact me to ask any questions about my tours in particular, or the Alps in general. If I can be of help in any way I’ll be glad to do so.
“Alps Select” – The Best of the Best. We ride the famous Andermatt area, enjoy the incomparable highs of Passo Stelvio and Gavia, revel in the beauty and unmatched riding of the Dolomites and then get some R&R in the Italian Lake region before our final blast back to Thun.
If you still want more then there’s the “French Loop”, which includes the Grand and Petite St. Bernard passes, the highest of the high cable cars riding the Aguille du Midi up to Mt. Blanc and the wonderfully accessible French charm that is Chamonix. You get to sample Switzerland and Austria, really appreciate Italy and decide if you prefer French or Italian cooking. You might even wind up determined to go home and buy your own Ducati or Moto Guzzi